Visit the nine stops along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, and you’ll see why this iconic, all-American spirit has become the toast of whiskey connoisseurs world-wide. Officially designated by Congress a “distinctive product of the United States” in 1964, 97% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience has become an international tourist attraction that has drawn 2.5 million visitors in the last five years.
Here are five noteworthy stops along the trail, where bourbon is king, but you’ll find many other attractions too:
The second-oldest town in Kentucky, Bardstown is known for its beautiful downtown as well as its bourbon. Makers Mark, Jim Beam and Heaven Hill distilleries are here, as well as the Bourbon Heritage Center. While you’re in town, visit My Old Kentucky Home State Park (where Stephen Foster was inspired to write the song of the same name), or relax in the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. Hungry? Check out Mammy’s Kitchen, where bourbon-accented dishes rule the menu.
Louisville is proud of its reputation as a gracious, hospitable place to visit. You may know it best for Churchill Downs, home of the annual Kentucky Derby. But bourbon is also right at home here, where Evan Williams and Bulleit maintain distilleries. Take time to explore the city’s myriad attractions, among them the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, home of the world’s largest baseball bat, or cruise on the Belle of Louisville riverboat. You’ll eat well here – Zagat named Louisville one of the top eight “awesome foodie getaways in the world.”
That’s “ver-sales,” please. Green pastures, white fences, horse farms that breed legendary thoroughbreds. And bourbon, of course. Woodford Reserve distillery, the oldest and smallest stop on the trail, offers several different tours. You can also indulge your “My Friend Flicka” fantasies at Three Chimneys, and WinStar horse farms get you up close and personal with some of the world’s finest horses. Find fine dining at the Woodford Inn or more casual fare at the Wallace Station Deli, based in an old country store.
It’s known as the Horse Capital of the World for a reason. All things equine are found here, most notably the Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland, in addition to the Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., the first new distillery built in Lexington in more than 100 years, and a relatively recent addition to the trail. Set in a picture-perfect farm landscape, Lexington has attractions even for those who don’t share a passion for horses or bourbon. Historic walking tours or carriage rides offer a taste of downtown, or enjoy boutique shopping, creative dining options and a roster of fascinating historic sites.
History, food, golf, shopping and – did we mention? – bourbon are all part of the mix in Lawrenceburg. Its quaint downtown is graced with an impressive courthouse building, shopping, dining and more. Lawrenceburg, is home to the Four Roses and Wild Turkey distilleries, and thriving wineries, like Lovers Leap Vineyards and Winery and Rising Sons Winery. Visitors can enjoy ghost walks held several weekends throughout late summer and early fall and bungee jumping from Young’s High Bridge – near the Wild Turkey Distillery.